Boz Scaggs opens Newport Snapple Sunset Music Series

Johnston Sun Rise - Wed, June 18, 2008


Newport is the place to be for music this summer. Whether it’s classical, jazz, folk or contemporary, there is certainly something for everyone in the City by the Sea.

The 2008 Snapple Sunset Music Series has an eclectic lineup that kicked off on Saturday, June 14 with the talented Boz Scaggs, best known for his participation in the Steve Miller Band in the 1970s.

I talked with Scaggs from his hotel room at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, where he was performing at a convention.

“I like doing shows for various groups and conventions, although they’re not always as responsive as performing before my [loyal] fans,” he said. “But I really don’t like Vegas. Too hot.”

“I’m looking forward to Newport,” he said. “I played a blues festival there a few years ago. What a view of the sailboats from the stage!”

Scaggs paid his musical dues with the Steve Miller Band and received instant stardom in 1976 with the release of his smash album “Silk Degrees,” which reached #2 on the charts and produced three hit singles: “Lowdown,” “Lido Shuffle” and “What Can I Say.” (Go on his Web site and you can hear them.) He is perhaps more widely known for the Urban Cowboy movie soundtrack hit, “Look What You’ve Done To Me.”

Scaggs has been around a long time and hesitated when I referred to him as a senior citizen.

In 2003, he released a collection of jazz standards that debuted #1 on the jazz charts, “But Beautiful.” He’s performed jazz, rock, adult contemporary and even a bit of bluegrass.

When I asked him what he considered himself to be, he replied: “A man of peace. Oh, you mean my music. I’m not sure what adult contemporary is today. It used to mean something else. The important thing is that it is live music. I’m involved in a club in San Francisco. My 29-year-old son is a part of the MTV generation, yet he believes in live music. That’s why we promote the club.

The music of the ’60s and the ’70s. The kids of today love it. They know the music and play the licks. If only they would go out and buy it.”

Boz is still active on the road when he’s not back at his California club. “I do as many dates as I want to, although my manager always wants me to do more.”

The singer/songwriter, while not a household word with many, has been a favorite of the critics over his long career. He said he went into semi-retirement in the ’80s, when he opened his club, but has now found new audiences.

Scaggs performed under the big tent right on the waterfront in downtown Newport on June 14 after singer/songwriter David Jacob Strain opened the show. Strain is an up-and-coming finger-style and slide guitarist from Oregon who plays some mean country blues.


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